The Baltimore Ravens as a team showed a strong outing against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last night as the team rallied to win 44-16. You would think that there would not be much to criticize in a win like that but in football, like in life, nothing is perfect and there are always things you can do to correct mistakes and get better. Now this is only the first preseason game and I feel that the preseason does not really indicate how a team is going to do in the regular season. They’re practice games that let you get a look at your whole roster and decide who should stay, and who should go.
Starting Notes: The Rookies get passed over.
The Ravens, who have a lot of position battles on defense, opted to go with experience for the first team defense last night. Ravens rookies Matt Elam and Arthur Brown did not get the start versus the Bucs. Instead at Safety Michael Huff and James Ihedigbo started at safety and Josh Bynes and Daryl Smith got the inside linebacker starting spots. A surprising starting decision was Courtney Upshaw starting at outside linebacker over Elvis Dumervil, though Dumervil’s role might be restricted to passing downs.
On offense the only real battle is at wide receiver and Jacoby Jones got the nod at the #2 position.
- The Running game looked really good. All of the Ravens running backs had pretty solid games for a first preseason game. Rice ran well and caught well out of the backfield. Pierce had a nice 20-yard touchdown run. Berry and Allen looked solid too. The Ravens have some really solid backs behind Rice.
- Tyrod Taylor had two great drives that led to passing touchdowns, and a great night overall. He threw for 154 yards and rushed for an additional 27.
- LaQuan Williams is staking his claim for a better spot on the roster. He played hard last night. He made some good catches, one was a TD. He even recovered a blocked punt for a TD and pounced on a second muffed punt later in the game. Overall good night for him.
- For a team that everyone is worried that we’re not going to score. We put up 44 points. I see that as a win.
- The starting drive ended in an interception. Really bad way to start a game. Flacco rebounded and completed 7 of 9 passes. So overall not so bad.
- Jacoby Jones and Tandon Doss failed to record a reception. That being said they were only on the field for a short amount of time. I doubt there is much cause for concern here.
- The first team offense didn’t score.
- Bernard Pierce and Deonte Thompson both came up limping and did not return to the game.
- Ngata and Suggs looked good. Suggs showed a lot of speed coming off the edge and Ngata ate up blockers as is usual. The starting defense only allowed 3 points, and their good performance was capped off with a big sack by Chris Canty.
- The Ravens forced 4 turnovers in the game. 3 interceptions and 1 recovered fumble.
- The run defense looked good as the Bucs were held to only 80-yards rushing on the night.
- The Ravens defense only allowed 1 touchdown all night.
- There were some defensive breakdowns and the communication looked bad at times. Some big plays were ripped off against the defense on some silly communication breakdowns. The Bucs had two big receptions, one for 61 yards the other for 41 yards. Its only the first preseason game, and the Ravens are trying to fill 6 spots left by departing players so its not all that surprising that communication is going to break down.
- They took some stupid penalties. This is on both offense and defense. They finished the game with 9 penalties for 122 yards. That’s something they’re going to need to work on and sharpen up.
- A blocked punt for a touchdown.
- A muffed punt recovery
- Justin Tucker was 3 for 3 with a 57-yard field goal. (He was also perfect on extra points for those keeping score of that at home too)
None that I can really see. No big gains on kick returns for the opposing team. Everyone stayed in their lanes. No muffed punts, missed kicks, blocked punts allowed, blocked kicks allowed. A very solid night on special teams.
As I stated earlier, for a preseason opener things went pretty well. Some sloppy miscommnications aside the Ravens played a pretty good game and saw a lot of things that are going to be interesting to see play out over the course of the preseason. The WR and defensive battles being the two main things. Also the TE situation and the running game development.